Monday, February 21, 2011

Furry Creek 13/02/2011

Jason had not been out to Furry Creek before, so we decided to go do some more exploring. I had not found the wall that was there so I wanted to do that at the very least. It was a fun dive the last time, too.

The day was awesome. The day before was terrible. Poor Jason was out doing an open water class that day and it was rainy cold and windy. Generally unpleasant! But not today. It was sunny and relatively warm.

When we arrived there were already some divers in the water. I was quite surprised! I didn't expect anyone dove this site with any regularity. But it was a pretty nice day. We asked the other group breifly where the wall was, and got some better directions. They were not sticking around for a second dive.

We got geared up again down the walkway on the wooden bench. A few dog-walkers went by while we were there, and we got several questions about what we were doing.

Again,t he logs on the beach were problematic. Not so bad with single cylinders, but doubles would be a bit difficult. There was a fair amount of clambering and stepping involved. That was the only downside to this site.

We entered the water off the small beach area to the north east. Jason wiped out on some of the slippery rocks and tore his marigold glove. He had a cold, wet hand for the whole dive unfortunately.

We swam out on the surface to the white marker buoy, which was almost straight north. We did not go for the red buoy, as that was in the wrong location. We descended on the line of the white buoy and headed north. It was quite shallow where we started, about 30 feet. The bottom was pretty sandy and devoid of features. We came across some rocky boulders and kept heading north. The plan was to hit 80 feet and find the wall. The bottom sloped gradually down, but once we were past the boulders there were no features and it didn't look like anything would appear to the north. So we swung north east and before long ran right into the wall.

In hindsight, a better way to find the wall at Furry Creek was this. Enter the water off the beach closest to the cul-de-sac and just follow the shoreline contour along the north east. This will start off pretty shallow, but will put you right onto the wall with no problems.

We didn't come across anything too spectacular, but there were a lot of small cloud sponges near 80 feet. A lot more than seemed normal. There were a lot of nice large anemones too, not just the regular plumose ones. Not many interesting fish, just the regular greenlings and ling cods. The rock wall was interesting in itself, with a nice formation. In the shallows there was a large rock overhang. Too small to get under, but you could see through it.

After some food and a surface interval, and some warming up, we were back in for the second dive. The water was noticeably colder, at 6 degrees. We both were feeling it!

The second dive was to see if there was anything worth seeing to the north west. We swam out along the bottom this time to the north and curved back in south. This proved to be relatively uninteresting. We came across the boulder ridge that runs east-west along the 40 foot contour or so, but that petered out very soon after following it west and south. We found the large concrete block that the red float tied to, but everything around that was sand and shallow. So we turned around and poked around along the boulder ridge for a bit and headed back in.

There was a lot of octopus evidence, but we didn't find any. Also none of the boulders concealed anything exciting. A lot of coonstripe shrimp peered out at us, but that was about it.

Visiblity was quite good, so the swim back in was quite nice.

Apart from the cold water, it was a very good day of diving!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Nanaimo Wrecks 30/01/2011

It had been a long time since I had dove the wrecks outside of Nanaimo. When Anita said she was going to get her friend Bill to take his boat out to them, I jumped at the chance.

Bill wanted to get going by 9, so that meant getting up early. 4:30am early. The previous day had been rainy and cold, but even though it was dark, the day was looking good. The ferry ride over went without incident, and we arrived early enough to go to Tim Hortons first. When we made it to the dock, Bill hadn't arrived yet. We met one of the other divers, Alan. When Bill pulled in with his boat, Anita kept saying it wasn't him because it didn't look like his boat. Funny enough, it was indeed Bill, and his boat was not how Anita remembered it! It was a very nice dive boat. You could easily run a charter with it.

Bill said some other folks were joining us, so we settled down to wait a bit. The boat had a back splash deck, a great ladder, and nice benches. The back area was covered to add to the comfort.

Bill and Alan were diving rebreathers while Anita and I were on open circuit. I'd not seen a rebreather used before so it was pretty interesting. I could certainly appreciate its usefulness as a tool, but I figured I had a long way to go before open circuit was exhausted for me.

We waited quite a while until we found out that the other divers had bailed. Once we heard that, we got under way.

It was an awesome day; sunny but cold. The water was pretty choppy, too. At one point the swells were enough to topple Alan's rig. There were bungees to secure cylinders, but the sheer force of the swells was pretty powerful.

We decided to do the Cape Breton first. With the rough seas, we also decided to dive with one team on the boat at all times. It was pretty dicey getting into my doubles with the waves like they were, but I managed.

Anita and I went down first, leaving Bill and Alan to mind the boat. I must say it was a nice feeling knowing someone was manning home base. However, it would in the end make the day much longer.

We descended on the stern, because that's where we tied up to. The expansive stern deck opened up around us. The mooring chain was making quite a racket due to the waves. I hoped that it would be strong enough!

Our dive plan was to have an average depth of 80 feet and a 50 minute dive. We set out towards the bow, and marvelled at the amount of life. The doorways and hatches were very eerie.

At the bow, the anchor equipment made what looked like a face.

On the way back to the stern, we came across more cabezons than I'd ever seen before. I saw one and was quite excited. Then another and another and another. It started to seem pretty ho-hum! I had seen only one cabezon ever before. I had mistaken buffalo sculpin for them many times until someone pointed out that buffalo sculpin were tiny. Cabezon are a few feet. I chased a few of them with the video camera and annoyed them to no end I'm sure. They reminded me of angry bull dogs.

Huge Cabezon

Decorated warbonnet curled up in a tube

On the surface we helped Bill and Alan get into the water. The boat was pitching and rolling a lot, so it was difficult. They were slinging 2 extra cylinders so even though the rebreathers were lighter, they had far more gear. Again it was dicey getting into the water with the waves but it worked.

While they went down, Anita and I went up. Up to the pilot deck and the sun and some lunch. It was surprisingly sunny, if a bit windy. We had a nice home-made soup, cave-aged gruyere and other cheeses, and some nice bread. A very civil affair.

After Bill and Allan were on board, we moved the boat to the HMCS Saskatchewan. Since we had our surface interval done, we started our dive pretty soon after we moved. The amidships and stern tie-up lines were missing so we had to tie up to the bow. Bill said he'd get in touch with one of the Artificial Reef society people about it.

The Saskatchewan was still my favourite wreck. With the gun turrets, the tall superstructure, and all the hatches and life it was a lot more interesting than the Breton. The Breton was bigger though. We saw some awesome nudibranchs on the line up to to boat, a shaggy mouse nudibranch amongst others.

Back on the boat, we relaxed more in the sun while Bill and Allan did their dive.

At the end of a very long day, all of it was worth it.